What is Personal branding? There are many definitions for personal branding. In short, it is your reputation and calling card. Personal branding is a combination of the skills and values that make you unique. It should focus on what makes you memorable.
It is the conscious and intentional effort to create and influence public perception of an individual by positioning them as an authority in their industry, elevating their credibility, and differentiating themselves from the competition, to ultimately advance their career, widen their circle of influence, and have a larger impact. (PersonalBrand.com. Retrieved 2020-05-13.)
In this post, we will be looking at the roadmap of personal branding you can adopt to step up your game. I assume you are committed to a long-term program to build your personal brand. If you are serious about building your personal brand over time, all you need to do is to turn this roadmap into a formal plan. That means writing it down, mulling over your answers, and updating the plan as you think of new ideas or decide to make course corrections.
The roadmap below is a general outline. It is up to you to colour between the lines, fill in the details, and make it utterly, wonderfully yours. I have divided the roadmap into four phases and shall explain the seven steps of phase 1 in this post. Other phases will be featured in other subsequent posts.
Phase I: Your Strategy
Step 1: Determine where you are today. Before you can begin your ascent, you need to know where you are starting. Are you a beginner, expert, or rising Star in your area? You need to be aware of your baseline. Determine your baseline position. Where are you standing today from the perspective of your audience? What is your visibility level to your buyers or audience? Buyers are willing to pay much more for highly visible experts than an average professional. Do you possess or hold any significant advantage over your undistinguished brethren?
Step 2: Identify your specialized area of expertise. Are you already an expert in something? Is that “something” fairly broad (“Engineering Services,” for instance), or is it very specialized (such as, “HVAC System Services”)? The more niche your expertise, the easier your rise will be. If you are not already, consider narrowing your focus. But if you cannot pare down the services you offer, you can at least plan to narrow what you write and speak about. Just keep in mind that eventually, you will need to follow that intended focus with action. Your goal in this step is to identify and narrow down your specialized area of expertise.
Step 3: Define your audience. Who will be buying your services? Who will influence your buyers? What industries do you serve? What roles in the companies buy your services? The answers to these questions will be the people for whom you craft every blog post, every speech, every book, every webinar… you get the point. When writing or reaching out by any means, always keep your target audience in mind. It will help you stay on point and attract the right kinds of prospects to your business.
Step 4: Find your angle. This step might not be absolutely required for everyone, but it can help your personal brand stand out. If you can become associated with an issue, or if you take a controversial or counterintuitive point of view, it is often easier to gain notice. Having an angle also gives you an anchor — a unique perspective — that will mark each piece of content you develop as yours. Find an area or angle that is unique to you which will make easily get noticed.
Step 5: Decide which tools you will use. There are seven critical tools you can choose from.
- Writing a book: Whether you do it yourself or enlist a ghost-writer, you will need to produce a book that addresses your area of expertise. A book is a critical credibility builder. It is an effective way to demonstrate your expertise and build visibility.
- Speaking engagement: Public speaking is an important platform for building your reputation and personal brand. Audiences are predisposed to trust anyone who stands at a podium, so just getting there is half the battle.
- Website: If you are part of a larger firm, you will want to focus first on your bio page. It should present sufficient credentials to convince people that you really know your stuff. Once you begin cultivating a regional or national reputation, you may want to consider developing a personal website, too. You can use this site as a platform to promote your books and public speaking in your area of specialization.
- A blog platform: Every expert should be blogging. It’s the most accessible way to demonstrate your expertise. A blog is an essential tool if you want to spread your wisdom quickly and widely.
- Email marketing service: If your blog is for introducing gobs of new people to you, email marketing is how you turn many of those readers into loyal followers — even raving fans. You can then feed these followers a steady diet of free educational goodies, as well as additional offers that deepen their engagement.
- Search engine optimization (SEO). If you think SEO plays no role in your line of work, you are almost certainly wrong. Every year, more and more organizations use online searches to find and vet their service providers. SEO is the tool that connects you to people who are intensely interested in the problems you solve. And you would never meet 99% of them without it.
- A media kit: Experts get requests for bios, speaking samples, and photos all the time. So, it makes sense to have those things ready to go at a moment’s notice. Even better, put them up on your website bio page where interested parties can find them without asking.
Apart from these seven tools, you can think of webinars, advertising, public relations, SlideShare, videos, and web analytics, to name just a few. You have to figure out which ones you will tackle first. And do not be afraid to consider other options, as well. If you have experience with webinars or videos, go ahead and make them part of your plan.
Step 6: Assess your skills: This is perhaps the most challenging part of the program if you are doing it yourself. Not because it takes a great deal of effort. But because it is so hard to be objective about one’s own strengths and weaknesses. Go through the skills you will need as listed below.
- Writing skills: Learn to write clear, plain English and work with an experienced writer or editor.
- Public Speaking: Most experts are comfortable speaking to their target audience and fellow professionals.
- Blogging: Either you or a colleague will need to handle the mechanics of getting your posts online. It is not difficult to learn, but this is another skill you will need to master, nevertheless.
- SEO and so on.
You will need to check the skills above and try to honestly evaluate your proficiency in each. Are you as good a writer as you think you are? Are you a strong public speaker? Which skills do you need to work on most, and which would benefit from a refresher? Develop a prioritized list of these skills and try to figure out which you can work on alone, and which will require a qualified teacher.
Step 7: Determine who is going to help you. Most of us will need at least a little help along our journey, and many will need a great deal of it. So, the first thing you need to do is to decide if you really want to try to make a solo ascent, or if a little supplemental oxygen. As you think about the tools and skills you will need, are there any that you might want to outsource? Line up these resources early so that you are not scrambling when you need them most.
Dear readers, these seven steps are categorized as your strategy in phase 1 of the roadmap of personal branding. We will be looking at other phases listed below in our subsequent posts very soon.
Phase II: Setting Up Your Infrastructure
Phase III: Develop Your Skills
Phase IV: Launch Time!
This road map can assist in setting you on the right path for a quick climb if you are an expert with aspirations to become a leader in your field. It’s normal to initially feel overburdened, especially if you’re already busy. All successful people you know had the same problem: You will be amazed at what will happen when you focus yourself on something that you really want.
The key is to break down your personal branding strategy into manageable chunks. Don’t try to tackle too many things at once. Little by little, you will begin to see results. At some point, people will begin asking for you. And eventually, a few will want to hire you and your firm based on your reputation alone. The thrill that comes with seeing steady progress makes all the hard work worth it.
Good luck and happy climbing!
Written by Hay-R-Hay.
2 Replies to “PERSONAL BRANDING ROADMAP – PART I”
The piece on personal branding is quite expository. It gives insights into the necessities for building a personal reputation, and identity.